Best Books I Read in 2019

2019 was quite productive, as far as reading is concerned. 

After many years, I managed reading decent number of books. It was back in 2012, that I had managed reading 105 books but wasn’t totally happy then because most books were mere experiments with new modern-day debut authors and the books turned out to be real disasters. 2019, thus, came as a surprise when I outdid my Goodreads reading challenge by reading 93 books. Of course, it came with a lot of planning. Of course, it came with a lot of obsessive reading.

My aim of exploring new authors from varied genres turned out to be quite fruitful last year when I ran into so many good books and such talented authors I hadn’t even heard of. I’ve come to realise that it feels like an enormous achievement when you find authors you’re going to stick by for the next decade or more, waiting eagerly for their next masterpieces, and at the same time, rereading their previous works over and over to keep the magic going, and in the process not letting the sweet taste of their creative nectar wipe out from your palate.

The one thing we book lovers absolutely crave for is finding books that leave you speechless, and your senses quenchless. Gives us all a reason to keep looking forward to the next day, isn’t it? Which is why, I made my mind that I will write a post sharing my best digs for 2019. Obviously, it is not that they revealed them to me for nothing. I had to endure my share of books I will regret forever. Suffice it to say that, I found some gems that I’m going to keep secured tight in the chest of my bookish memories.

Here’s the list of best books I read in 2019. In no particular order of adoration, I have put together the synopsis to let you know what the books are about.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
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The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

Ousep Chacko, journalist and failed novelist, prides himself on being “the last of the real men.” This includes waking neighbors upon returning late from the pub. His wife Mariamma stretches their money, raises their two boys, and, in her spare time, gleefully fantasizes about Ousep dying. One day, their seemingly happy seventeen-year-old son Unni—an obsessed comic-book artist—falls from the balcony, leaving them to wonder whether it was an accident. Three years later, Ousep receives a package that sends him searching for the answer, hounding his son’s former friends, attending a cartoonists’ meeting, and even accosting a famous neurosurgeon. Meanwhile, younger son Thoma, missing his brother, falls head over heels for the much older girl who befriended them both. Haughty and beautiful, she has her own secrets. The Illicit Happiness of Other People—a smart, wry, and poignant novel—teases you with its mystery, philosophy, and unlikely love story.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph
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Susanna’s Seven Husbands by Ruskin Bond

Since his childhood, Arun has secretly been in love with Susanna, his dangerously alluring neighbour, who becomes his friend despite the wide difference in their ages. But Susanna has a weakness for falling in love with the wrong men. Over the years, Arun watches as Susanna becomes notorious as the merry widow who flits from one marriage to another, leaving behind a trail of dead husbands. It is only a matter of time before he too begins to wonder if there is any truth to the slanderous gossip surrounding the woman he is in love with. In this gripping new novella of love and death, Bond revisits his previously published short story of the same name, included here in an appendix.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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Susanna’s Seven husbands by Ruskin Bond
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Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed. Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy Now

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All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy

“In my childhood, I was known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman.” So begins the story of Myshkin and his mother Gayatri, who is driven to rebel against tradition and follow her artist’s instinct for freedom. Freedom of a different kind is in the air across India. The fight against British rule is reaching a critical turn. The Nazis have come to power in Germany. At this point of crisis, two strangers arrive in Gayatri’s town, opening up to her the vision of other possible lives.

What took Myshkin’s mother from India to Dutch-held Bali in the 1930s, ripping a knife through his comfortingly familiar universe? Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, Myshkin comes to understand the connections between the anguish at home and a war-torn universe overtaken by patriotism. This enthralling novel tells a tragic story of men and women trapped in a dangerous era uncannily similar to the present. Its scale is matched by its power as a parable for our times.

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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All The Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy
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The Mystic Masseur by V. S. Naipaul

This novel traces the story of Ganesh, a ‘ten a penny’ masseur from Trinidad. From failed primary school teacher and masseur to author, revered mystic and MBE, his is a journey for its hilarious and bewildering success.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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The Mystic Masseur by V. S. Naipaul
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Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.  At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle. The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
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1922 by Stephen King

The Confession of Mr Wilfred James concerning his life before and after his wife’s gruesome murder he and his son, committed in 1922. When Arlette James decides to sell off her farmland willed to her by her father, Wilfred James finds himself hard-pressed for a life he doesn’t want even a day of. Thus, begins the terrifying journey of Wilfred James scheming to murder his wife, whilst manipulating his son Henry, leading to rather horrific consequences for both father and son; something Wilf had never imagined would happen.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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1922 by Stephen King
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The Anarchy by William Dalrymple

The story of how the East India Company took over large swaths of Asia, and the devastating results of the corporation running a country. In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course of the next 47 years, the company’s reach grew until almost all of India south of Delhi was effectively ruled from a boardroom in the city of London.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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The Anarchy by William Dalrymple
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The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker

A scholar takes up residence in the former home of a judge with a very evil reputation. He finds the place infested with rats, but it suits his purposes… until one of the rats grows too bold, and the scholar realizes the horror he’s stumbled into.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker
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Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant

Set during the Franco-Prussian war, Butterball or Boule de Suif is a sympathetic portrayal of a prostitute’s mistreatment at the hands of a cold-hearted bourgeoisie. When Butterball’s carriage is halted by Prussian soldiers, they demand her sexual services as ransom. Her fellow passengers—hitherto disdainful of her company—are suddenly more than happy to benefit from her “immoral” trade. But Butterball is a loyal French nationalist, and she refuses to sleep with the enemy. Through the warmth and generosity of his heroine, Maupassant exposes the hypocrisy of the French middle class. French writer Guy de Maupassant is most famous for his short stories, which depict the humdrum fate of the middle and working classes.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant
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A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

Ali Shigri, Pakistan Air Force pilot and Silent Drill Commander of the Fury Squadron, is on a mission to avenge his father’s suspicious death, which the government calls a suicide.Ali’s target is none other than General Zia ul-Haq, dictator of Pakistani. Enlisting a rag-tag group of conspirators, including his cologne-bathed roommate, a hash-smoking American lieutenant, and a mango-besotted crow, Ali sets his elaborate plan in motion. There’s only one problem: the line of would-be Zia assassins is longer than he could have possibly known.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give it a try. Buy now

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A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

Apart from these beauties, there were some other books that I liked but not as much because they didn’t stick with me. The above mentioned titles made it to my best books list because they managed to leave me with something to ponder over, long after I had finished reading these books.

Some of the characters I met I shall never forget; whether I liked or disliked them, I thought they were beautifully portrayed. Some plot lines either left me stunned or surprised, but were successful in stirring me to an extent that I know before long I shall be craving to get back to them.

You can checkout details such as my reviews and other information on these books on my Goodreads page.

Do tell if you’ve read any of these titles. Did you like them? Didn’t like them? Are you planning to pick any for 2020? Tell me about your best books of 2019.

If you are on Goodreads, do share links of your profile in comments below so I can add you up.

Happy reading till we meet next.

Until then, carpe diem! 🙂

~~~~~

© Asha Seth

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33 Replies to “Best Books I Read in 2019”

    1. I read Maupassant for the first time last year. Of all the short stories I read, Boule de Suif stuck with me. Sadly, we were never introduced to his works in high school. Setterfield is one amazing writer. I loved bother her books. Have you read The Thirteenth Tale?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting list! I couldn’t get into “Ove,” but I really enjoyed Fredrik Backman‘s “Britt-Marie Was Here.” Also: “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine,” by Gail Honeyman; Elizabeth Strout’s books, including “Olive Kitteridge” and “The Burgess Boys;” and “The Good Shepherd,” a World War II novel by C.S. Forester, which will soon come out in a movie version with the name changed to “Greyhound.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I liked Ove as a character but can’t say it was only him that I loved the book for. I need to get my hands on Eleanor Oliphant but everyone seems to be raving about it so I’ll take my time with it. I am usually sceptical about book hype. That said, I guess there are some really great titles you’ve mentioned here that I need to checkout.

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      1. Speaking of raving, Everyone is raving about the brand new Olive Kitteridge book by Elizabeth Strout. But I suggest that you start with the original Olive Kitteridge, published in 2008. It won the Pulitzer Prize and is available in paperback.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I surely will. I heard about it first only from you and is on my TBR now. I will look out for it. I find Pulitzer winning books too overrated. Not all, just some I’ve read, and that’s why I’m usually not too eager to pick them up.

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  2. Although familiar with some of the authors I haven’t read any of these books but that’s fine as it adds to my future reading list. I look forward to your reading journey this year as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have quite some titles to finish. Books that have been waiting for years. Don Quixote, War and Peace, A Suitable Boy, Fountainhead, A Woman in White, etc are few that I aim to accomplish. Last year was a fine achievement. I am afraid, this year it won’t be that eventful. But I shall wait to see what all you pick.

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      1. Don Quixote is on my list too as is The beautiful and damned. I want to reread War and Peace again. I think this year will be eventful because we shall make it so! I think that is a good plan and we should stick to making it happen.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Fitzgerald is on my TBR for years now. I only read some in school days. Haven’t picked up anything in recent years. There seems to be so much to do despite not having a resolution list.

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  3. You are the first blog I am reading this year. I read Boule de Suif in French many years back, Mystic Masseur is a delightful read and will check out the books of Arundhati Roy. She is one of my favorite authors. An incredible achievement. I managed 50 books last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could never feel Roy’s works. I have read both her books now. I won’t bother about her works again, I’m sure. 50 books is a massive achievement. I am eager to check out your list. Do share the link. I feel excited to know mine’s the first blog you read this year. I hope it was worth the while. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have reviewed most of these titles, so you can check them too. Just search the blog. Bridge of Clay is a unique book. It is slow at the start but picks up all right. I am yet to checkout ‘I am the Messenger’. How was that?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read Ove, and different titles by Stocker and Zusak, and some Mauppassaunt stories, I have seen some of the others mentioned, but haven’t read them. I like posts like this for ideas.

    Great reading, congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love putting together such lists that serve as a quick reference whenever I am looking for some engaging rereads. And it is added joy, when it helps readers meet some awesome books. Thanks, Silvia.

      Like

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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